Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Durango’s made a season out of scratching out low-scoring victories.
So what’s one more?
The DHS boys basketball team rallied late, outscoring Grand Junction Central 12-3 in the fourth quarter to pull out a 39-31 victory Saturday to stay perfect at home this season.
It’s the fifth time this season the Demons have been victorious despite scoring less than 40 points, and it took a superlative defensive effort late to do it.
The Demons (12-4, 5-2 Southwestern League) forced nine Warriors’ turnovers in the final frame and allowed just one field goal in the last 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.
“We step it up. We really rely on our defense and stuff. It’s our key thing; it’s our go-to,” said Dane Mestas, son of Josette Chacon and Dane Mestas.
As the Warriors struggled to score, Durango, which hit just 5 of 22 from the floor in the first half, started to get going on the offensive end.
Mestas scored eight of his 11 points in the third quarter as DHS began to claw back into the basketball game.
Willy Frownfelter, a pest to Central’s ballhandlers in the second half, scored six of his seven points in the fourth quarter.
Durango was much more efficient after halftime, connecting on 6 of 13 field goals. And the Demons were solid from 3-point range all afternoon, with Mestas and Ty Elliott, who also scored 11 points, hitting all of Durango’s 3s in a 6 of 10 effort.
“We said it at halftime. Our defense was not the problem. ... It was just executing on the offensive end,” DHS head coach Alan Batiste said.
“That second half, we started slowly executing – getting easier shots, getting wide-open looks – and it paid off.”
While Nick Hamlin had an off game offensively, he was critical on the glass, pulling in nine rebounds. And Durango forced 20 total turnovers while committing 17.
The hustle plays almost entirely went in Durango’s favor in the fourth quarter, as well, after Central battled DHS for a 28-27 lead after three quarters and led by as many as seven at 26-19.
Frownfelter nearly singlehandedly iced the game, drawing an offensive foul on Preston Grandbouche with DHS up 35-29 with 1 minute, 24 seconds to play. He then buried a pair of free throws, picked up a steal, then drilled two more foul shots to push the lead to 39-29 with 37 seconds to play.
“It’s that type of brand of basketball we like to play. Low scores and being on the W end is a good thing,” Batiste said.
Edward Becoat led the Warriors with 14 points as only five players scored for Grand Junction Central.
DHS was without freshman gunner Lucas Baken for the second consecutive day with an ankle injury. Batiste is hoping to have him back next weekend.
After spending 12 of their first 13 games on the road, the Demons have taken advantage of their home court, winning all four games in their gym. And they’ll try to keep their overall winning streak going at Montezuma-Cortez on Tuesday.
“You’ve got to protect the house, you know?” Mestas said.